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Thursday, 23 June 1994
Page: 1980

(Question No. 1389)

Senator Panizza asked the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, upon notice, on 11 May 1994:

  With reference to the recent interim listing in the Register of National Estate of areas of the Southern Forest Region of south-west Western Australia, and in particular the areas forming approximately half of the total area of the Manjimup Shire:

  (1) What guarantees can the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC) or the Government give that listing will not be followed by other processes which will deny or limit access to, use or enjoyment of listed land.

  (2) In what way could the Federal Government provide watertight guarantees that it will take no further action with regard to listed land.

  (3) Why did the AHC not advise the shire in advance of its finalised plan for listing half the area of the shire.

  (4) Why were 214 home-owners at Windy Harbour not notified of the AHC's intention to list all south coast land in the shire, including the land on which their homes stand.

  (5) Why was the heritage listing model, which was a watered down version of what was originally proposed and developed with local input, including that of three shire councillors, never ratified by the model committee.

  (6) Why did the AHC ignore the suggested power of veto over listing which the model committee sought on behalf of private landowners.

  (7) Why was the listing process established in the model never followed by the AHC in the Southern Forest region.

  (8) Why has the AHC allowed only a matter of weeks, until 8 June 1994, for objections to its listing proposal to be formally lodged.

  (9) Why did the AHC consider it necessary to include the whole south coast in its listing proposal, rather than exclude areas such as Windy Harbour.

  (10) Has the AHC ever listed as high a proportion of any other shire in Australia as the 50 per cent it proposes for Manjimup.

Senator Faulkner —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) & (2) Listing in the Register of the National Estate does not, in any way, constitute a limitation on the access, use or enjoyment of listed land over and above any such restrictions that may already have been put in place by the State Government. The Australian Heritage Commission does not have the powers to impose any of the constraints referred to above and the Federal Government has no plans to introduce any other processes to that effect.

  (3) Australian Heritage Commission records indicate that the AHC did, in fact, advise the Council in advance of its intention to interim-list places in the Southern Forest Region. A letter of notification about the intended listings was sent to the Shire of Manjimup, dated 8 February 1994. The Commission, in conjunction with CALM, also held a public meeting, as early as February 1992, to inform the local community about the regional assessment project.

  (4) The area in question was originally nominated for entry in the Register by the WA Government and registered in 1978 as part of the `Proposed South Coast National Park' without any limitations having been placed on the management or use of this land in that time. The home-owners resident in the area were not identified in the data on private landowners obtained from the Department of Conservation and Land Management and the statutory obligation of the Commission to provide a notice of intention to enter a place in the Register does not apply to those places that have already been listed in the past—as was Windy Harbour in 1978.

  (5) The heritage listing model was not ratified by the model committee as the agreement to develop the model was made between the AHC and the Western Australian Farmers' Federation. The final model was endorsed by both WAFF and the National Farmers' Federation. The role of the Heritage Model Committee was to provide local input as required. I provide the honourable senator with a brief background to the series of events which led to this outcome.

  In March 1992, the Western Australian Farmers' Federation and the Australian Heritage Commission entered into an agreement that:

  before any further assessment of private properties, the AHC and WAFF, in consultation with landowner representatives, would work to develop a model for future listings of farmland.

  the AHC and WAFF would progress this model which would be the preferred model for listings of farmland in WA.

  A version of the model was requested at a public meeting in June 1993, by members of both the local community and the Heritage Model Committee, which made provision for the right of private landowners to veto any proposed recognition of national estate values. The question of veto had been extensively explored by the Heritage Model Committee prior to this meeting, including seeking the advice of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department. It was made clear at that time that such a proviso would run counter to the Commission's statutory obligations and past practices as defined in its Act. The power of veto for the protection of individual rights should not be considered a pre-requisite for community involvement in the identification of the National Estate, since there is no question of listing infringing such rights.

  Notwithstanding this clear advice, the model, as proposed at the public meeting, was presented for consideration at the 98th meeting of the Australian Heritage Commission on 26-27 August 1993. The Commission considered the veto proposal at length—along with the Attorney-General's Department advice on the matter—and determined that the power of veto by an individual property owner was not within the purview of the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975. It did, however, endorse a model for community participation that was consistent with its obligations under this Act. The Commission and WAFF agreed that the endorsed model was in line with their joint agreement of March 1992. This model was, subsequently, also endorsed by the National Farmers' Federation.

  (6) The Australian Heritage Commission did not ignore the suggested power of veto over listing which was requested by members of the Heritage Model Committee. After due consideration of this request and having sought the legal advice of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, the Chairman and Commissioners of the AHC determined that the adoption of the veto proposal would be contrary to the statutory requirements imposed by the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975.

  (7) The Heritage Model Committee established two models. One for future regional assessments and one for the Southern Forests project. This was done in recognition of the fact that it was not possible to apply the former model retrospectively in the Southern Forest Region and that subsequent assessments would involve the community more fully. The latter model, which was devised to take into account the Commission's community participation program over the past eighteen months, has been adhered to.

  (8) The Australian Heritage Commission has a statutory obligation to allow for a minimum three-month objection period following the interim-listing of places on the Register of the National Estate. The 9 June 1994 deadline is in accordance with that obligation as it will be three months since the public notification of the interim-listings was announced on 8 March 1994. The Commission, however, is prepared to consider detailed submissions beyond the 9 June deadline if the nature of any objections received by that date requires it.

  (9) Windy Harbour was originally registered in 1978 as part of the then `Proposed South Coast National Park' whose boundaries were those recommended by State Cabinet in 1976. The area was then nominated for national estate listing by the State Government and entered in the Register without objection. The recent joint AHC/CALM regional assessment identified a range of national estate values across the D'Entrecasteaux area including Windy Harbour.

  (10) Yes.